Friday, August 31, 2012

OOB Improv Festival...

Yesterday, we drove from San Antonio to Austin for the Out Of Bounds Improv Festival.

On our way there, we stopped at Buckee's.

It's the largest convenience store in the world.

It's ginormous. It's 3 city blocks long.

Look, they have a whole wall dedicated to gummy candy's.

Look at the kolaches.

Look at all the jerky.

We drove to the airport, picked up Brett, then headed to the Salt Lick for some BBQ.

It was very delicious. They were featured on Top Chef last year.

They have a mustard base BBQ, which I've never had before. It was really spectacular.

We went back to the hotel, worked out, then went to the theater to do our first show. It was a lot of fun.

An artist was there and he drew a picture of us in the show.

Today I taught a four hour master class.

It was a great class, full of new students as well as some familiar faces that I've taught before.

After the class, we ran some errands, met up with some improv friends and then went to the congress bridge to watch the bats.

I don't know if a breeze came through when I took the photo or if Brett's terrified of the bats.

Tomorrow, we're doing 1 Aphasia show, sitting in on the Stoolpigeon show and also taking part in an Austin radio show. Aphasia is the guest for the Mascot Wedding Show. You can listen to it live on the Internet. Here's the info for it:

If you don't listen on Saturday, you can listen to the podcast of the episode once it's posted.
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Wednesday, August 29, 2012


Aphasia's performing at the Out Of Bounds Improv Festival in Austin again this year. We have 2 shows, one on Thursday and one on Saturday.

Jeannie and I flew down to San Antonio early so we could spend some time with her folks.

We used our frequent flyer miles to buy our flights. For some reason, she had more miles on United and I had more miles on Delta so we had to take 2 different flights. My flight was at 6am and I had a connection through Atlanta.

When I arrived in Atlanta at 8:30, Jeannie's flight was just about to leave. She sent me this photo...

It's Dolph Ziggler from WWE. The Showoff!

He's very popular right now because he won a match where he had to climb to the top of a ladder to get a briefcase called "The Money In The Bank" briefcase. He can cash that in at anytime for a title match for the Heavyweight Championship.

The funny thing is, he was using the briefcase for his carry-on luggage. Jeannie said he opened it up and she was expecting to see it full of money or a contract, but he was using it to carry his cell phone and wallet.


I posted Jeannie's photo on Facebook and I got several messages telling me that I knew Dolph's brother, Ryan. I taught Ryan at IO several years ago at IO. Ryan is also a professional wrestler.

When Jeannie landed, I was going to introduce myself and say that I taught his brother back in Chicago and that he was very funny, but as I approached him there was some confusion with his other luggage. I didn't want to bother him, but I took a photo of The Money In The Bank Briefcase.

After getting out of the airport, Jeannie's parents took us over to our favorite BBQ place, Rudy's.

It's nice to be back in Texas.

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Saturday, August 25, 2012

The AFI list...

On June 22, 2007, I wrote a blog post about the number of movies that I'd watched from the AFI List of the 100 Greatest Movies Ever Made.  At that point, I estimated that I'd seen 62 of the movies on the list.  Well, I was wrong.

There were five movies on the list, that I'd only partially seen.  In good consciousness, I couldn't allow myself to say in good faith that I'd seen all the movies on the list if there were a couple movies on the list that I wasn't positive that I'd seen.

So, I printed off the list of all the movies that I hadn't seen and put the list in my wallet.  Over the next 5 years, everytime I saw one of the movies on the list, I crossed it off.

It took a lot longer to watch the movies on the list because of my job working on cruise ships.  While I had plenty of time to watch the movies, it was tough tracking a lot of those movies down.

Last year, while Brett and I were at a Cubs game, we were talking about our Aphasia podcast and how I wanted to a second podcast.  I told him I wanted to have he, Jeannie and several of our friends get together to watch all the movies on the list and then discuss them.  It would be like a book club, but it would be for movies.  He asked why I wanted to do it and I said I wanted to do it because there were so many great movies on the list that I wanted to talk about, but nobody I know had seen them.  I also wondered how he, Jeannie and friends of ours like Becca Lulinski, Jo Feldman and Anne Kuzmanich would react to seeing a movie like The Philadelphia Story.  I also wondered if they'd be mad that movies like Bringing Up Baby were on the list.

We started doing the podcast and called it The Thursday Evening Movie Club.  I've enjoyed doing it so much.  It is so much fun to meet up with our friends every week and talk about movies.  I host the show and Jeannie and Brett are regulars.  After the second episode, I realized I wanted Becca to be a regular on the show.  She is such a sweet, fun, wonderful person, but she hates almost every movie she sees.

We've had some truly hilarious episodes.  It's A Wonderful Life, One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest, Pulp Fiction, Duck Soup, To Kill A Mockingbird and Star Wars are my favorite episodes.

Several months ago, I watched the 99th movie on my list, Sullivan's Travels.

I had one movie left, but I wanted to wait to watch it when it was time to watch it on the podcast.  Last week, we finally watched it.  The movie was Psycho.

Now, you might be surprised that I've never seen Psycho, but it's one of those movies that I thought I'd seen, but I never had.  Once I realized I hadn't seen it, I saved it to be my final one.  I wanted to make sure my last one was a good one.

Now that I've seen them all, I would definitely change the order of my top ten.

It would go like this:
1- Casablanca
2- Godfather
3- Godfather II
4- Sunset Blvd.
5- Fargo
6- Raging Bull
7- Schindler's List
8- Sunrise
9- Last Picture Show
10- The Deer Hunter

Friday, August 17, 2012


After a little coercing and prodding, I've finally convinced my publisher to release my book Guru; My Days with Del Close as an e-book.

I've asked my publisher on a couple different occasions to do the digital conversion, but they were pretty reticent. A new director took over as senior editor there, so I thought I'd ask again.

They responded very quickly that Guru was one of the books they have selected to be digitized. It will be on iBooks and Kindles before the end of the year.

To celebrate, Jeannie took me to Maggiano's downtown.

To be fair. We had gift cards to Maggiano's and were looking for a reason to use them. Digitizing Del was a welcome reason.

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Tuesday, August 14, 2012

An update on my LASIK...

I'm doing well. My eyes feel Ike they're back to normal. For the past few days they were still swollen so it felt like I had my contacts in. On three different occasions when I was very tired, I went to the bathroom and grabbed my contacts case and started to reach up to my eye to pinch my lenses out. Thankfully, I stopped myself right before I touched my eye. I'm not allowed to touch anywhere near or around my eye for seven days.
It's taken a little bit to get used to. I keep reaching up to my face to adjust glasses that aren't there. I woke up yesterday, saw the clock and immediately thought, "crap! I slept with my contacts in!"
My eye sight is pretty excellent. There's some fuzziness when my eyes are dry. And, signs that are in the distance that have black words written on white backgrounds are a little fuzzy as well. Everything else is pretty spectacular.
The drawback has been the different goofy things I've had to wear through this process. This is the head gear I had to wear for the LASIK surgery.

These are the goggles I have to wear for the next 7 days when I sleep and shower.

I look angry in the picture, but I'm not. It's just suctioning my face.

Today I threw away all my contact cases and solutions.

I have 8 contacts that I haven't used that I have been able to mail back to 1-800-contacts for a refund.

My old glasses, I donated to a friend of ours from Hawaii, Jeff Orig. His father is taking used glasses and giving them to people in need who can't afforded to pay for glasses. If you have a pair that you don't use anymore, send them to:
Dr. Carlito V. Orig
225 Kaiulani Avenue PH #4
Honolulu Hawaii, 96815

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Location:N Wells St,Chicago,United States

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Suddenly, I see...

For the first time in 35 years, I woke up this morning and could see the numbers on the alarm clock beside my bed.

I have worn glasses or contacts ever since I was 6 years old.  I remember the exact incident that caused me to get them.  I was throwing a baseball back and forth with my Uncle Kenny (who was only 2 years older than me) at the park across the street from my house in Quincy, Illinois.  He threw one high up in the air and I never saw it come down.  It hit me right in the nose and I had to go to the hospital to get the bleeding to stop.  The following week, I had a pair of brown plastic glasses permanently attached to my face.  I played soccer as a little kid and my parent were desperately afraid I was going to lose the glasses, so my parents bought a strap that kept the glasses strapped to my face.  Like this...
That strap made sure I didn't lose the glasses, but it did nothing to keep me from breaking my glasses.  From the age of six to the the age of twelve, I'm pretty certain I went through five pairs of glasses.  All of them looked terrible.  If you go to my parents house, you can see the photos of all the ugly glasses I wore.  In eighth grade, I convinced my parents to let me get contact lenses.

Which, was a huge deal.  Because in 1984, not that many people were wearing contact lenses.  People were still worried that if you wore them, they would destroy your eyesight.  I didn't care.  Anything to get me away from glasses.

Some people look good in glasses.  I have a lot of friends who look really amazing with glasses.  Not me.  No matter what I put on, I look like a dork.

Through the years, I have lived with a combination of contacts and glasses and for the most part, have been satisfied.  And then, two or three years ago, I started having problems with both of those items.   The biggest problem I had was with the material they were using to make the contact lenses.  Since the trend was to make disposable lenses, the material became cheaper and more irritating.  My eyes just were not adapting to the lenses.  I tried multiple kinds, but all of them bothered me.

On top of that, I've developed a hate/hate relationship with the eye doctors I was visiting.  There was absolutely no consistency from visit to visit and the prescription they were giving me for my lenses and glasses were inadequate and problematic.  On my last pair of glasses, instead of magnifying the images, it actually shrunk them down.

A month ago, I went to the eye doctor and had an absolutely terrible experience.  It was at For Eyes on Clark.  I normally would complain about a business on here, but he was terrible.  He was impatient, rude, condescending and insulting.  During the exam, he was switching back and forth between lenses so fast that I couldn't tell the difference between the images.  I asked him to repeat the choices and he groaned and said, "C'mon.  Concentrate!"  I apologized and said, it was just going too fast for me to tell the difference.  He flipped on the lights, opened the door and said, "Okay, come back when you're better prepared to do this."  Then, he left the room.

I was very angry, but since I'd already paid, I came back two days later.  He gave me a pair of contacts, but they weren't the right prescription.  I went back three more times for three more check ups and lenses until we found a pair that worked.  I told him that I'd never had that bad of a problem getting contacts before.  He scribbled out a prescription and said, "Don't blame me." and walked out.  The lenses still weren't adequate, but I figured I was at the point that I was just going to have to live with it.  I wanted a new pair of glasses, but didn't want to give anymore money to For Eyes, so Jeannie and I went across the street to Lenscrafters.

When we walked in, a salesperson greeted us and told us she had an amazing sale going on.  She told us to pick out any pair of lenses in the store and she would be able to get them for us for $75.

Jeannie and I picked out a pair of frames and handed them to her along with my prescription.  She looked at them, handed them back to me and said, "This isn't going to work.  Your prescription is too strong for frames like these.  I won't sell them to you."  I explained to her that they were similar to the current pair of glasses that I had at home and she said, "I highly doubt that."  You think I'm lying, I asked her and she said, "I've worked in the glasses industry for a year and I am experienced enough to know that what you're saying is extremely unlikely."

I smiled and shrugged my shoulders at Jeannie and we left.  When we got home, I messaged my friend and director from Second City, Matt.  Last year, Matt did what I've wanted to do for the last 5 years.  He got Lasik Eye Surgery.  He told me everything he knew and recommended the place where he'd gotten his done, LasikPlus on North and Sheffield.

I spent the next two days researching every aspect of Lasik and LasikPlus.  I called several different places and got over the phone consultations.  Finally, I felt confident that LasikPlus was the best place in the city and I called and set up an official consultation.  I wasn't sure if I was still going to go through with the actual surgery, but I wanted to go through with the consultation.  I got there and they were really amazing.  The were kind and patient and supportive and completely reassuring.  They never pressured me to do anything.  They gave me a two hour exam and briefed me on the whole Lasik process.  

"You know, this prescription you got at your last eye doctor is very incorrect," the ophthalmologist told me during the exam.  I told her it was the catalyst that sent me here.

After a great deal of deliberation, I called and made my appointment for the surgery.  Friday morning, Jeannie and I went to the LasikPlus office early in the morning and went through the pre-op.  When that was finished, I went into the surgery room and let them shoot lasers at my eyes.  The actual surgery process took 10 total minutes.

I went home, slept all afternoon.  I woke up and for the first time in 35 years, I could see without any contacts or glasses.  This morning, my vision was even better.  Everything was crisp and sharp and colors were a little more distinct.  My eyes are still a little swollen and dry, so words on signs at a distance or really close up are still a little fuzzy.  But, that will improv soon.

Before the surgery, my eyes were 20/400 in both eyes with a significant astigmatism.  After Lasik, I'm seeing 20/20 with my astigmatism completely corrected and gone.  By next week, the doctor said my vision should stabilize and be even better and I'll be seeing 20/15 in both eyes.
Is it possible, I've taken my last eye exam?

Oh, lord I hope so.

I can see!  I can see!  I CAN SEE!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012


It's been a very busy improv summer.  Especially the past few weeks.

Jeannie and Senja did 2 shows at the Playground in their 2 person team, Daim (pronounced "dime").  They put together their own form, but I rehearsed with them for a few days to help them iron things out.  Both of their performances were great shows and they did a great job.

For the past couple of weeks I have been teaching Level's 4 and 5 at IO for the Summer Intensive program.  It's an immersion program where people from all over the world come to Chicago to take 5 weeks of IO's training program.  They meet Mondays through Thursdays for 6 hours a day.
 In my Summer Intensive classes, I have people from Toronto, Arizona, London, Dubai, Nashville, Austin, Philadelphia, New York and many other locations.

It's a great program.  It's actually where I met Jeannie 7 years ago.  It's the reason Senja and our good friend Scott from Honolulu are here.

So, I've been teaching Mondays through Thursdays from 11am to 5pm, then heading over to Second City on Tuesdays to teach Scenic Improv from 7pm to 10pm.  On Wednesdays, I teach Level 5 at IO.  And then, on Thursdays I teach Writing 1 at Second City again.  On Sundays, I perform with Deep Schwa at IO.  And then on Mondays, am not coaching, recording podcasts or watching shows, I perform in the Armando.  I don't get over to do Armando as much as I want to, but with the Summer Intensive winding down and my teaching schedule loosening up, I'm going to make a concentrated effort not to allow anything else to get scheduled on Mondays.

It's been a fun improv summer.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Colleen's wedding...

Last night we went to the wedding for my Deep Schwa teammate, Colleen Murray.

It was a lovely ceremony and a very fun reception.

I was really excited that we got to see and spend time with some of my old friends from Chicago who I don't see very often like Meagan Flanigan, Sue Salvi, Piero and a bunch of others.

Jeannie was really happy to see our director and her laughing buddy, TJ Shanoff.

He gets married next week!

It was really nice to see our old Deep Schwa coach Liz Allen and her husband Doug. And, I was ecstatic to see and talk to The Original Deep Schwan, Kevin Fleming. I had a great time talking to him and his wife Katie and they caught me up on the lives and careers of our mutual friends who live in LA.

At the end of the night we managed to get a photo with all the current and former members of Deep Schwa who were at the wedding.

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